English 2000 Citizens in Time

Movie as Political Discourse































Achilles' Shield celebrates the extraordinary vigor of life on this earth. It is also Homer's hopeful vision of a world moving toward peace as its citizens work in concert with nature and each other. Thus Achilles' Shield is a fitting icon for a course that asks, "What does it mean to be a human being living in society?"



Antwone Fisher





Hurt Locker


The Rock



Time to Kill


The movie as political discourse Web page explores how a particular movie (from the movies on the right and left) deals with the same questions the course asks during the semester.

You will look at how your movie defines justice, and how it shows justice achieved—or not achieved—within the community. You will examine what your movie teaches us about political systems.  You might want to suggest what English 2000 writer your movie most resembles.  Additionally, the following questions that were dramatized in Greek tragedy and comedy can help you generate insightful analyses of your movie, explaining to the reader/viewer how movies perform a political function in our society.

For the Greeks of 5th century B.C., political discourse was open, free discussion of important questions crucial to the establishment and maintaining of a right order in the city (polis). These questions were debated not only in the law court and assembly but also in the plays performed annually at the Festival of Dionysius in Athens. At this festival, the plays often explored the nature of politics and social questions and thus provided the citizenry a critical self-examination on these questions:

  1. What is the nature of freedom?  Are we fated to do the things we do, or are we acting on free will?  How much of our lives are determined by outside forces and how much do we control through our own choices?
  2. What is the nature of justice?  What kinds of justice are there and which ones are better?  What is the role of the divine in human affairs?
  3. What is the role of women in the polis?  Although their province is the oikos and they are not citizens, how do they influence, change, or correct the path of the city?
  4. What is the nature and function of violence?  What calls it forth in the city?  What does it achieve?  Can a state function without violence?
  5. Why is betrayal of trust so heinous?
  6. What happens when speech is perverted so that words no longer retain their meaning?  What happens when morality is corrupted in the city?
  7. Does the social order have any coherence? Is it moral? How can a community achieve coherence or morality?
  8. What is the justification for war?

Through the working out of these questions in both tragic and comic formats, Greek drama helped shape public life and assisted in the formation of the citizens, teaching them how to discuss and take part in public life.

In English 2000: Citizens in Time, we suggest that serious movies can perform the same function for our culture that Greek drama did: they open up and explore questions crucial to the citizens and their community.










Top of Page






Gone Baby Gone





Shawshank Redemption



To Kill a Mockingbird



Created by Dorothy McCaughey   09/28/2010

Louisiana State University